International Women's Day 2021

Women who've made their mark in the pub sector

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

International Women's Day: we asked dozens of leading women in the hospitality for their opinions on the state of the trade
International Women's Day: we asked dozens of leading women in the hospitality for their opinions on the state of the trade

Related tags Pub Beer Alcoholic beverage Restaurant Public house Women Gender

To champion and celebrate women in the on-trade, at all levels and across a variety of job functions, The Morning Advertiser ​has collected the life stories and advice from some of the most inspiring people in the sector.

The MA team

Emily Hawkins – reporter


Biggest achievement:​ Studying and completing a journalism qualification while at The Morning Advertiser​.

Best advice given: ​Don’t be afraid to let people know when they’re wasting your time.

Best advice you’d give: ​Assert yourself and your boundaries, be it in a personal or professional context.

Barriers to be overcome:​ Women’s rights movements and society, generally, need to make sure nobody is left behind and consider how other types of discrimination work with sexism.

Barriers that have been overcome:​ There have been several legal changes in the past decade that help protect and support women, such as Scotland introducing free period products in schools and ‘upskirting’ being made illegal in England and Wales.

Nikkie Thatcher – senior reporter

Nikkie bw

Biggest achievement: ​Managing to calm a particularly irate pub customer who was spoiling for a fight. I spoke to him for a while, asking him about his family and this seemed to diffuse the situation.

Best advice given:​ Don’t take any s**t from anyone.

Best advice you’d give:​ Definitely don’t take any s**t from anyone. Don’t be afraid to say something if things aren’t right. Standing up for yourself is something that men get credit for yet, women don’t and this needs to change.

Barriers to be overcome:​ There’s still a lot more to be done when it comes to women in the trade. From sexist remarks to the gender pay gap. While things have progressed, particularly in recent years, equality still isn’t in place. It needs to be made clearer that inappropriate behaviour and comments won’t be tolerated.

Barriers that have been overcome:​ Women speak up a lot more against things that aren’t OK that used to get brushed under the carpet – which is great.

Amy Challis, restaurant manager, the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Amy Challis

Biggest achievement: ​My biggest achievement is building the service at the Unruly Pig to be attentive, warm and friendly, without being overbearing – the mythical balance. It’s been essential for the business to build the service to be just as great as the food is. I look back over my three and a half years at the Pig and, without seeming immodest, we have come such a long way, due to our fantastic team being so receptive to our drives for continuous improvement. I’m so proud that this has led us to win Best Front of House 2020 at Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs awards, our second win in three years.

Best advice you’d give: ​Firstly: have fun. Hospitality is not the easiest industry – you have to put your heart and soul into it. So why not have a bit of fun along the way? I’m lucky enough to work with people who genuinely make me cry with laughter on an almost daily basis. The key to a successful operation is a happy team. Happy staff, happy guests. Second piece of advice: detail, detail, detail. Without attention to detail, you can’t achieve consistency. Without consistency, you can’t succeed.

Heroes: ​I would have to say my mother is my biggest hero. She is one of the strongest women that I know. She is positive, kind and caring. She is always there if I need her but will also still tell me off if I need it.

Ceri Radford, head of recruitment and ops admin, Admiral Taverns 

Ceri 2021

Biggest achievement:​ My biggest achievement has been growing into the person I am today. Joining the industry 13 years ago, never did I imagine I would be in the position I am today. I've picked up valuable knowledge and have used the fantastic people around me to build on my career and enhance my development. 

Best advice you’d give:​ Embrace the people you work for and embrace the industry. It is a brilliant sector to work in.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?​ I think it's a hugely important day to highlight that anyone can be successful within an industry if they put their mind to it. We have a number of successful leaders who have worked hard and achieved a lot. I never imagined I would still be at the same company 13 years on after joining as recruitment administrator, but I have found that with the support of colleagues and the sharing of knowledge I’ve been able to realise my potential and excel. You just need to embrace the industry and embrace the people you work for. 

Suzanne Baker, commercial and property director, Stonegate Pub Company

Suzanne Baker

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Over the thirty-plus years I have spent in the hospitality industry I have seen a great many changes. Hospitality has always been a male-dominated industry and I’m delighted to see things get better and better as this is addressed, not just through policies introduced by companies, but by a real change in attitude towards and perception of women in the industry. 

As the commercial and property director of Stonegate Group, now the largest pub company in the UK, I am proud to be part of an executive team where women are not just represented but hold a significant portion of the seats on the board. 

Now, as I look at the next generation of young women in Stonegate moving up in their own careers, I feel very lucky to work for a company that not only encourages and uplifts them but strives to find ways to go beyond that.

In 2019 we brought in an external consultant to help us identify ways of enabling women in the business to move to the next level, discover the practical and cultural barriers that might be holding them back, and critically, any gaps in their training or personal development that we could address. 

For me, this has formalised some of the ways in which I considered myself to have been lucky in my own career. I always had a personal commitment to never miss a nativity play or sports day, and I am thankful I was in the situation that I was able to uphold that commitment.  Today, I actively encourage my team to do the same, and across the wider business, I see this subtle shift in culture being normalised and lauded, not just for women, but men too. 

What does International Women's Day mean to you? ​International Women’s Day for me is about ensuring that each and every woman, of any and all demographics, has the confidence to know that their dreams and aspirations are important and worthy pursuit – whatever those dreams may be. It’s about having the courage and conviction to be authentic to yourself in a world, and an industry, where that is encouraged.

Emine Mehmet, senior group digital marketing manager, Inception Group

Emine Mehmet

Barriers to be overcome: ​I feel that there is generally a lack of female leaders in the hospitality industry, and therefore naturally a lack of female mentors. From my own experience, I’ve found that younger women will look for inspiration in other women in higher roles. Possibly the lack of female leaders above them could limit their beliefs of reaching the same level of success for themselves.

How can the sector continue to improve: ​I think transparency is hugely important here. I think that companies should communicate that they are aware of this global issue and openly talk about how they will implement ways to make improvements. I feel that being open encourages conversations, making the women currently working in the industry feel valued. Once this openness is achieved, it would hopefully help raise enough awareness, so that women not working in the industry feel confident enough to step in. 

Best advice you’d give:​ Always remember the reason why you have been hired for the role: your expertise was needed for the company to succeed. You should feel fully confident to give your educated advice and opinions in any scenario, even if it’s the opposite of what may have been the initial plan. Where possible, back up your advice with real data too, as this will not only make you feel more reassured when putting decisions forward but will help strengthen your option in others’ views too. Also, no idea is ever too crazy! Always be confident to say your ideas out loud.

Karren Errington, partner at the Rat in Anick, Hexham, Northumberland

Karen Errington

Time in the trade: ​30-plus years.

Biggest achievement: ​Keeping the Rat open and trading successfully through difficult and changing economic times. I remember someone once telling me that the average life span of a restaurant is seven years so we’re well on the way to doubling that.

Best advice you’d give: ​Get as much experience as you can, be clear about your goals – set out your stall, be strong and don’t be distracted.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Making drastic changes to the Rat when we arrived and dealing with the negativity brought by some locals who repeatedly told us ‘it’ll never work’ and would stand at the bar and greet diners by telling them it was far too expensive here and that they should go down the road to X,Y and Z.

Alice Bowyer, executive chef, Liberation Group

Alice Bowyer

Time in the trade: ​My parents had a pub when I was born and have grown up in pubs, so that’s 40 years.

Biggest achievement: ​I’m very proud to have led a team that won best food offer at The Publican Awards in 2019 and was a finalist again this year. I also got to cook for Simon Hopkinson once and that was a dream come true.

Best advice given: ​Believe in yourself and empower/delegate your team to allow you more time to think and make the right decisions. After years of wanting to do everything myself and saying yes to everyone I really improved as a manager with this advice. I still like to please but have more confidence to say no.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Being taken seriously as a chef and a manager of a large department has taken a while – after many years of faking confidence until I actually believed it. Lack of confidence is a common barrier for women. Implementing and developing balanced gender kitchens has been an aim of mine for some time but there’s still a lot of work to do.

Heroes: ​Simon Hopkinson, Gary Rhodes, Gizzi Erskine, Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, April Bloomfield, Angela Hartnett to name a few. I look up to female chefs such as Elizabeth Haigh, Selin Kiazim, Nieves Barragan and Pip Lacey.

Jennie Tucker, head of marketing, Hawthorn

Jennie Tucker, Head of Marketing, Hawthorn

Heroes:​ Working in a male-dominated industry, it’s great to recognise and celebrate women's achievements and role within the industry. It’s inspiring to see the likes of Kate Nicholls and Emma McClarkin lead the charge on our bounceback, and to hear from women like Ann Elliott who really empower women in our sector. But I’m equally inspired by my peers at Hawthorn, including our amazing BDMs, our HR and finance teams, and our incredible pub partners and operators, who do such amazing work in their communities. I’m fortunate to work for a company whose leaders are passionate about people, and this shapes the people-first culture that empowers and provides opportunities to everybody

Julie Moss, managed house director, Arkell's Brewery


Heroes:​ My Auntie, I first met her 48 years ago, she ran and owned hotels, pubs and restaurants then and continued to do so well into her eighties. She was an absolute force of nature, extremely well respected and I swear, if you looked up the definition of hospitality, there her name would be. She taught me to aim high, never give up and never be anybody’s second choice.

Barriers to be overcome:​ The biggest challenge is the fact it still stands on the shoulders of a time when a pub or bar was perceived exclusively as a male sanctuary. But the world is rapidly changing and as with all change, if you don’t move with it you risk falling by the wayside. After all, there were those that thought the smoking ban would never happen. 

Best advice you’d give: ​Don’t let anyone treat you differently because you are a women. Make them treat you differently because you are great at what you do.

Georgina Young, brewing director, St Austell Brewery

Georgina Young

Biggest achievement: ​Winning Champion Keg Lager at the International Brewing Awards while I was working at Fuller’s was a real career highlight. We won the trophy at two consecutive competitions, which proves teamwork, sourcing the best-quality raw materials and consistency throughout the brewing process, results in world class beer.

Best advice given: ​Work hard, try your best, delegate and surround yourself with talented people.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Pint glasses are still a big barrier – the glassware normally used to serve beer in British pubs can be off-putting for women, who would prefer to drink from a small or more elegant glass. Moving towards a more continental style of glassware – in pubs, bars and restaurants – would help move away from the outdated stereotype that beer is a ‘man’s drink’.

Who has helped and supported you: ​First and foremost, I have to say my family – particularly my husband who puts up with me going away a lot despite him having a full time career. The kids are also great now they are older. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to continue my brewing career.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Things are beginning to change in terms women in brewing. There are more women working in the industry than portrayed in the media – but there’s still a long way to go.

Charlotte Vincent, head chef at the Five Bells in Cullompton, Devon

Charlotte Vincent

Biggest achievement: ​Getting into the Top 50 Gastropubs.

Best advice given: ​No matter what, always get up, show up and try your best.

Best advice you would give: ​Professionally, take notes, drink in knowledge no matter how small – you never know when you might need it. Personally, treat people well – a kind word of encouragement can make someone’s day.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Still equality; female head chefs are still fighting to be heard and recognised in the industry.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My wonderful bosses James and Charlotte Garnham.

Heroes: ​All the women who turn up to work every day and do great things. Ladies, you rock – proper heroes.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Anxiety and confidence crisis and the obvious discrimination against women in the late ’90s.

Lucy Barker, operations director, Punch 


Your advice to others:​ Ensure balance for yourself  – emotional wellbeing, physical activity and mental stretch each day will allow you to be the best you. Have a plan – It can change and develop but as a leader of any team you need a plan Do what you love – If your passion is your work it makes life fun. My passion is people and hospitality and I really love what I do.

Who has helped and supported you:​ Many people throughout my career. From Samantha Rhodes who gave me my first area manager job as part of Scruffy Murphy’s Irish pubs, Jillian McLean who grew and inspired me to develop as a leader throughout my nightclub and late night era. Paul Flaum, now CEO for Bourne Leisure, whose authentic leadership taught me a lot throughout my time in Whitbread and Bourne.

Anne Brock, master distiller, Bombay Sapphire

Anne Brock

Barriers to be overcome:​ There can be a lack of visibility of women in senior roles which in turn can limit the industry attracting more great female talent. We know there are lots of talented women out there who are perhaps being put off by their perception of the industry being male dominated and we want to see a change there.

How can the sector continue to improve: ​We can continue to improve the gender balance by encouraging women working in the sector to stand up and be counted. Too often talks and events are dominated by male presenters when the industry itself is much more balanced. The more women speak up the more we will attract women. That’s why events like our upcoming International Women’s Day panel are important as it gives other women who might aspire to work in the industry sight of someone like myself who is enjoying a career in distilling, and it gives other women in the drinks world like Anna Sebastien and Sandrae Lawrence, who are at the top of their game, a platform to speak about their own positive experiences in the industry.

Sally Abé, consultant chef, Conrad London St James hotel

Sally Abe

Biggest achievement: ​Topping the Top 50 Gastropubs list.

Best advice given: ​Every day is a new day, don’t dwell on what happened yesterday just move forward.

Best advice you’d give: ​Realise your own self worth.

Barriers to be overcome: ​I want kitchens to be more diverse, we all need to work together to encourage people who wouldn’t normally consider being a chef or front of house into hospitality.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My husband Matt has been my rock for the past 11 years.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​I’ve worked hard to create a positive, encouraging environment for my team.

Mel Marriot, founder and managing director, Darwin & Wallace

Mel Marriott

Best advice given: ​My father would write to me often and close his letters with “Dream big little one” – so I do.

Best advice you’d give: ​Look beyond the obvious, work harder than the rest, surround yourself with things you love. This has become the mantra within our business and encapsulates some of what is necessary to be successful and to stand out in business amid a very capable and competitive peer group yet recognises this will only happen if you truly have a passion for your daily endeavour and love what you do.

Barriers to be overcome: ​These change daily – sometimes it’s the curveballs that have the biggest chance of knocking us off course, a departure from routine or rhythm of your life-work balance. These are usually temporary and are overcome by focusing on short-term solutions to manage the blip and the support of others, which means not being afraid to draw others in and ask for help – a problem shared is a problem halved.

Heroes: ​Along the way I have been privileged to work with or meet a great number of inspiring individuals many of whom have helped me through their willingness to be flexible patient and enthusiastic about my plans.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Imposter syndrome – it’s real. 

Emma McClarkin, chief executive, the British Beer & Pub Association

Emma McClarkin

Biggest achievement: ​Representing my country as an MEP for 10 years. Turning my passions in life into my work, from politics to sport to music, and now beer and pubs.

Best advice given: ​Always have your 60-second lift pitch ready and know your worth, the value of your ideas, experience and dynamic.

Best advice you’d give: ​Always be motivated, don’t stagnate. If you are not giving 100% it’s time to find a new challenge. Love what you do. Find a mentor to motivate you.

Barriers to be overcome: ​We still have stereotypes to break down. It will take everyone in the industry to tackle these. As a woman, you have to find your voice, step up, be better, be quicker, be stronger, confident in your ideas and ownership of them. Women must help other women and lift the younger generation. Blaze a trail but help to make sure that path is there for others is key.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Some wonderful men and women gave me the confidence to believe in myself, and my family. Remember success often requires a lot of sacrifice so the love and support from your family is indispensable.

Heroes: ​Dolly Parton and Jilly Cooper. Successful, passionate women who did things their way without losing their femininity. If only I could write and sing as well.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Being told I was too young to be elected in politics before becoming the youngest MEP representing the UK.

Maureen Heffernan, managing director, Leisure PR and owner, the Richmond Club

Maureen Heffernan

Time in the trade: ​25-plus years

Biggest achievement: ​Tricky to state just one as I have many things I am proud of. Running Leisure PR is up there as we strive to make a difference not only through our PR work but uniting the industry around showcasing the great careers on offer. Working with a small village in Nepal has certainly been humbling and the sheer sense of pride in seeing some of the young girls now have a sense of worth and ambition touches the heartstrings. And seeing my two sons turn out as engaging and successful men makes me extremely proud.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Getting your voice heard as a female in hospitality has not always been easy and working full time while bringing up a family means you need a great network around you.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Robert Humphreys MBE was my first boss in this industry whose support, belief and encouragement set me on my career journey. Mary Curnock Cook OBE who was my first female boss, whose tenacity, foresight and vision was inspiring and Ian Payne MBE whose total belief and encouragement in my, and many others’ ability, makes anything seem possible.

Mandy Southall, operations director, Punch 


Biggest Achievement​: Being a part of the pub industry is in my blood and, I feel incredibly proud of everything I’ve achieved so far in my career. Some of the biggest highlights include running 3 successful pubs by the time I was 23 whilst doing my accountancy qualifications and then starting my beloved family. Being the first female to chair the Yorkshire Beer and Pub Association in 2015, a position I proudly held for three years, was also a career highlight. I count myself lucky to have a career that I genuinely love. Getting up every day to develop and lead a team of 11 outstanding Operation Managers who share my passion for pubs is a real buzz. 

Barriers that have been overcome:​ Overcoming the stigma attached to both sex and age. When I took my first pub, I was told I was too young to be a landlady. It didn’t take me long to change their minds.

Sarah Weir, managing director, Albion & East

Sarah Weir

Barriers that have been overcome: ​It was hard to be a woman breaking into the boys’ club, particularly in the ‘drinks’ industry. Funnily enough, it was never so much of an issue at grassroots level – our industry is one of the most diverse and accepting there is. A busy, tough shift bonds people together beyond race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and education.

However, in ‘management’ positions, the divides do exist, and not just on gender, as is true of most industries. You have to be savvy to navigate through it and tough skinned to take the knocks.

Along the way, there were times when people took your breath away. Adam Martin, if you are out there, I will never forget when I returned from maternity leave with my second child on three days a week, you said to me you got more out of me in three days than most of the staff who worked five days. That made me very proud and even more driven to prove that working mums can add value, not just tick a ‘diversity’ box.

Good news, the gender divide is changing. Women are breaking into the traditional male enclave of senior operational roles and board level positions. It would be better if that happened without movements like International Women’s Day rather than because of them.

Hospitality should pioneer diversity for other industries just as our teams pioneer this every day on shift, and have done for many more years than us ‘managers’ have. They wouldn’t for inequality, so why do we?

Kate Nicholls, chief executive UKHospitality

Kate Nicholls

Barriers to be overcome: ​In hospitality, we pride ourselves on being a true meritocracy. We have a good track record providing career opportunities to women. We strive to provide opportunities in every region of the UK across a wide range of skills levels irrespective of background. It is clear, though, that is much more we can, and should, be doing to get women into senior positions in the industry. Despite significant progress, 84% of businesses in the hospitality sector are still not on course to reach 33% female representation across all three senior leadership levels (board, executive committee and direct reports) by the end of 2020. This is something we need to focus on.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​There is plenty we can be proud of in terms of promoting diversity and providing opportunities for women. For instance, we provide career starts to young women and we have been excellent at shrinking the gender pay gap which, in 2019, stood at just 2.8% for hospitality, the fifth closest to parity out of 85 sectors analysed. There are numerous green shoots all around the industry, too. We are set to hit that 33% mark for women on boards by the end of next year. We are significantly outperforming the cross-industry average in women and black, Asian and minority ethnic employees reporting into exec committees – meaning we have a strong pipeline. We are also doing great work providing opportunities for employees and guests with disabilities and neuro-diversity and our sector is a model of social mobility.

Best advice you’d give: ​Lift as you climb. Encourage hungry young talent, give the benefit of your experience, give them opportunities and challenge them to prove themselves. Don’t just support, be a champion for those coming behind.

Anna Sebastian, bar manager, Artesian, the Langham, London and founder of Celebrate Her

Anna Sebastian

Barriers to be overcome:​ Traditionally there were not a lot of women in hospitality especially in the high-end positions and while this has changed we still have a long way to go. A lot of people feel challenged when women have an opinion and women are often called emotional while a man would be called headstrong.  This has such a negative impact on not only morale and confidence but also on developing professionally. Not forgetting the gender pay gaps still very much exists so that needs to change. 

Best advice you’d give:​ Try everything once but know not everything is right for you.  Know your morals and beliefs and never compromise on that.  Don’t attach yourself to a place, company, or person instead attach yourself to a mission or a purpose, that is how you keep your power and your peace.  Finally, and importantly, have a lot of fun, sometimes the only way through situations is to laugh!

Sarah Perry, vice president of customer supply chain, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company


What does International Women’s Day mean to you?​ International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the power of women and shine a spotlight on the many inspirational stories which recognise the value of women in business and society. It is also a day to remind ourselves that we all have a role to play in promoting change in and out of the workplace. 

Barriers to be overcome:​ In the beer and pubs industry, which has traditionally been a male dominated environment, we need to encourage and empower different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds to drive growth and innovation. I feel certain this is something our sector will continue to strive for. We have some incredible women in the beer and hospitality industries and during my time with Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company I’ve seen countless examples of women supporting and empowering each other. If we continue doing that, I think we’re well on our way to drive the change that’s needed to secure an even better future for our industry.

Stosie Madi, chef and co-founder, the Parkers Arms, Newton-in-Bowland, Lancashire

Stosie Madi Chef

Time in the trade: ​More than 30 years – to be honest all my life really, I grew up in a hospitality business.

Biggest achievement: ​Winning Craft Guild of Chefs pub chef of the year – nothing is better than a vote from peers, which is why lists such as the Top 50 Gastropubs and the National Restaurant Awards matter to the industry.

Best advice you’d give: ​Make a plan and stick to it. Never ever give up, you will find a way.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Making your voice heard against big business and hugely funded organisations. As an independent, self-funded business, you have to make a lot of noise to get noticed. Always use your funding to better your business and your voice to make yourself heard.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My wonderful parents who were in hospitality, my business partner and mentor Kathy Smith, and my small and supportive work family.

Heroes: ​My mother, the best chef in the world, and Kathy Smith, my business partner – they just made things happen and didn’t wait around. They go out and get it. It is in my nature too.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Being told I would not make it happen on a shoestring – I was told you need big funding and being refused funding by banks that did not see my vision. If you believe in yourself and your product, with sound advice, thorough research and hard work you can make it happen.

Fiona Dickie, pubs code adjudicator


Biggest achievement: ​I’m humbled by the opportunity I’ve been given to bring greater fairness into the regulated tied pub trade.

Best advice given: ​Set your expectation, lead by your own example and raise your game. Like Michelle Obama said: “When they go low, we go high.”

Best advice you’d give: ​Don’t ever compromise your integrity; you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Coming from outside the industry, I’ve been struck by the lack of diversity – including at the top end of management and among trade professionals, campaigners and other stakeholders. This isn’t the 1970s and we should expect more than lip service to equality and diversity, which can strengthen decision making and greatly increase the talent pool. Not enough action has been taken by those who can to bring more balance and opportunity.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Everywhere I’ve been in my career, I’ve found people who want to lift others up. You get the best out of people, and out of yourself, by encouraging others.

Heroes: ​My dad. He loved his village community and was a real pub man. In the 1990s, as chairman of the trustees of the village charity, he arranged to lease land at the rear of the pub to Everards for a car park so it could reopen after a fire had kept it closed for two years. That pub is still thriving at the heart of the village.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​I’m raising two children so, as many working care givers will appreciate, finding the right back-up is an almost constant strain.

Lauren Soderberg, beer guru for The New World Trading Company

Lauren Soderberg

Biggest achievement: ​Being included in The Independent​’s 20 female ground breakers of 2017 was amazing. To be on a list with the likes of Rose McGowan, Malala Yousafzai and Professor Mary Beard was an honour. Its also pretty good being the first female beer guru for NWTC.

Best advice given: ​It’s really cheesy but believe in yourself more. I have moments of self-doubt and then my dad is the voice of reason.

Best advice you’d give: ​Don’t listen to anyone who tells you, you can’t do it. You’re a badass who can do anything you put your mind to.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Some men find it hard to take women in beer seriously. In summer, I host ale masterclasses and they tend to be stag dos. I did one last year where the groom’s dad was shocked that a woman was hosting the class. The groom asked me three times for my bra as part of one of his dares even though I said no. The entire party pretty much ignored me and spoke over me when I was talking.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My family and boyfriend are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

Heroes: ​The work that Melissa Cole and Jaega Wise have done for women in beer is incredible, they have really opened the door for more women in the beer industry.

Anna-Marie Mason, director of marketing, Mitchells & Butlers

Anna-Marie Mason

Biggest achievement: ​Finding a way to have a good balance in life while doing a job I love.

Best advice given: ​Life, including your career, has many planned and unplanned twists. There is always something to be learned from them.

Best advice you’d give: ​Treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself

Who has helped and supported you: ​There are too many to mention, working in hospitality, you have to be part of a team. I’ve worked with a diverse range of people who have helped me develop my style and lead really successful teams. But overall, everyone who I’ve worked with in my career has supported me in some way.

Heroes: ​I won’t embarrass them by naming them. But my parents’ work ethic and values remain an inspiration and a north star in my life.

Anni Opong, managing director, Arc Inspirations

Anni Opong

Biggest achievement: ​My biggest achievement to date would be being promoted to managing director at Arc Inspirations.

Best advice given: ​I would say don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside your comfort zone – if the outcome isn’t what you expect, you will learn from it regardless.

Best advice you’d give: ​Always believe in yourself and be confident to rise above challenges you are faced with – there’s nothing you can’t overcome if you put your mind to it.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Even through tough times in the industry, it is key to keep constantly energising, motivating and inspiring our growing teams, and to remind people how great it is be part of an amazing industry made up of talented and passionate people.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My partner Tony has been an amazing support and has always encouraged and pushed me to be the best that I can be.

Heroes: ​Michelle Obama.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Looking back over the years, there have a been a few barriers, but rising above these to become one of the leading figures in the hospitality industry in a male-orientated sector has been a real accomplishment.

Hannah Newman, owner/managing director of two pubs

Hannah Newman

Biggest achievement: ​Aside from my three beautiful children, starting our pub company and taking the keys to our first pub aged 22 was a pretty crazy accomplishment. We literally started it with what was going to a be a small deposit (£5,000) on a shared ownership flat. Instead we took the keys to a Georgian pub with three floors turning over about £800 a week. Through blood sweat and tears, we are still trading (in two different sites) nine years later. Without any big investors and while balancing having three small children.

Best advice given: ​I worked for a small independent fashion company 10 years ago, initially in marketing but ended up supporting the owner in budgeting and reporting. Her financial adviser taught me turnover for vanity, profit for sanity (among how to accurately read and write financial documents). It’s so true and easily forgotten when you are on your own. It’s much easier to follow sales than GP.

Best advice you’d give: ​Pay attention, work hard, wherever you are. Even if you’re starting as the cleaning person or a warehouse packer. This industry is one of the only ones where you will do best learning on the job and hard work is almost always rewarded.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Children in the workplace. Or the work-life balance. In the past year, I’ve nearly been turned away from two trade shows with babes in arms. Mothers are actually some of the most impressive individuals in the industry. We need to split the taboo between work and home.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​The punters’ attitude towards women have definitely changed – we have finally normalised women running the show. When I was landlady of my first pub, some of the old guard wouldn’t even discuss beer with me. I definitely feel more respected behind the bar now.

Danielle Watkins, bartender, Lab 22 Cardiff

Danielle Watkins

Biggest achievement: ​Graduating from university and being runner-up in a bar team of the year award, earlier this year.

Best advice given: ​Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Dwelling on the past and future.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My mother, she brought me up as a single parent.

Heroes: ​Simone De Beauvoir, Jordan Peterson and Grace Jones.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​The fear of the unknown.

Helen Charlesworth, managing director, Stonegate Pub Company

Helen Charlesworth

Who has helped and supported you: ​At Stonegate Group, I am fortunate to work in an incredibly progressive and inclusive team which is led by Simon Longbottom. 

His dedication to progression allows me to do the same for the senior management team, and they in turn are able to elevate, encourage and support the people in their own teams.

The Stonegate Board, as a reflection of Simon’s principles in running the business, engenders those values, perpetuating that culture throughout Stonegate, from each and every one of our pub and bars, right back up to the boardroom. 

Barriers to be overcome: ​While I am not supportive of positive discrimination, I wholeheartedly support diversity. And not just diversity in gender, but diversity across all demographic criteria. I really believe it brings a richness to the ideas we generate, to the values we uphold, and it is our moral obligation to support and encourage our people along the way to achieving that. 

It is this kind of positive culture that allows us to flourish both personally and professionally. And allowing our values to be satisfied, remaining authentic to our belief systems, and ensuring we are happy and contented in our home lives, all positively impacts on how we do our jobs. Which is why we strive to create this culture of respect and inclusivity at Stonegate, to ensure our teams are rife with happy, productive people who are raring to go. 

What does International Women's Day mean to you? ​International Women’s Day is significant in all of this, as it encourages us to hold ourselves to account, to take stock, and ask, are we doing enough to capture these values? Are we ensuring everyone feels confident in being able to define and reach for their goals? And are we cultivating an environment in which those goals are recognised and praised? 

Emily Scott, chef/restauranteur, St Tudy Inn, Bodmin, Cornwall

Emily Scott

Biggest achievement: ​Last year, I competed on BBC Two’s Great British Menu ​2019 in the south-west heat, which was great exposure for the St Tudy Inn. I have also been listed in the CODE top 100 most influential women in hospitality for two years running. I was immensely proud to find myself on this list alongside so many inspirational women. The industry has changed a lot for the better since I trained, and the presence of more women as chefs, sommeliers and business owners has played a massive part in that. We were awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016, which has been retained for the fifth year in the Michelin Guide 2020. St Tudy Inn was listed in the Estrella Top 50 Gastropubs for the fourth year – also winning the highest climber.

Best advice given: ​Press on and never give up.

Best advice you’d give: ​There are many highs and lows but being consistent is the most important thing and believing in yourself.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Reducing waste and becoming as green as possible in the restaurant business – inspiring the next generation in hospitality.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My partner Mark – a winemaker – has given me a huge amount of support and is inspirational, my children and my parents.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Self-doubt and backing myself. Being female in a male-dominated world has had its challenges. Working with food after suffering from an eating disorder.

Rachael Singer, financial director, Chemisphere

Rachael Singer is FD at Chemisphere UK

Time in the trade:​ I joined the industry as credit controller for Chemisphere just over 10 years ago, having been made redundant from my previous role in recruitment. It was a leap into the unknown, and I have never looked back

Barriers to be overcome:​ I know the pressures that many women face, and as an employer we often welcome part time workers and will try to accommodate working hours that suit both staff and the business - something that is important when ensuring parents (mums AND dads!) can take control of their careers whilst bringing up children. This has been seen as a barrier in the past, especially for working mums, and we want to make it as easy as possible.

What advice would you give:​ Come on in! Women are now influencing the beer and ale scene - from a product perspective, the advertising and marketing has become much more imaginative, with craft brewers opting for funky packaging and flavouring which almost certainly appeals to more women.

I always kick off my weekends with an citrus infused IPA, and being part of the industry at this exciting time makes for a vibrant and varied career.

Victoria Segebarth, managing director, Asahi UK Holdings Ltd

Victoria Segebarth

Best advice given:​ Relatively early on in my career, I remember being given a couple of pieces of advice from senior board members. Firstly, as a leader you should always be as authentic as possible in your interaction with colleagues – sharing your ideas, vision and values as well as acknowledging your areas of development and vulnerability. Secondly, you should always be mindful of the shadow you cast with others, especially as you become more senior.

Best advice you’d give:​ To help others embarking on a similar path to me, I would certainly reiterate the advice I was given in the early stages of my career. Additionally, know that the mistakes you make are some of the best development opportunities you will ever receive – so always take the chance to learn from them.

Barriers to be overcome: ​If you believe in yourself and your abilities there are very few barriers that can get in the away of realising what you want to achieve. And you can use your achievements as the catalyst to drive your career forward, obtaining recognition and reward from the goals you reach and how you made them happen. The vast majority of companies now recognise the power that diversity can bring to the business, both within the workforce itself and as an ethos for strategic thinking and growth. It is one of the most valuable focus areas for enabling the delivery of great results.

Paula Smith, head of marketing, the Licensed Trade Charity

Paula Smith

Barriers to be overcome:​ My experience during Covid is that my female peers in the trade, who are working from home, are often taking the lion’s share of care responsibilities for children who cannot go to school and are often apologising for young members of the family interrupting a call, or sitting at the table with them.   

Male counterparts more often have a place in the house that the children are not allowed to access or disturb. I’ve read articles about this setting the move towards gender equality in the workplace back 10 years, however it is not my own personal experience.

Related topics Events & Occasions

Related news

Show more